Cane and Chiko Win Big at the First Virtual RAMMY Awards

After a months-long delay, DC's annual restaurant-industry gala streamed online tonight.

Kelly Collis from the Tommy Show talks to Pastry Chef of the Year winner Paola Velez.

The pandemic has totally upended the hospitality industry, but the show went on for Washington’s big restaurant awards. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s hosted its annual RAMMY Awards gala Sunday night, after initially postponing the spring ceremony.

The event took place virtually for the first time this year, with some awards presented in-person at at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center with masks and social distancing. The pre-show featured online cocktail tutorials and wine tastings with some of the nominees, and there was even a virtual (poolside) afterparty with DJ Neekola.

One thing that hasn’t changed: Only restaurants that are RAMW members are eligible for awards.  An anonymous panel of food writers and other industry professionals chooses most of the winners, while the public votes in four categories: favorite fast bites, gathering place, casual brunch, and upscale brunch.

The event included plenty of love letters to the eating and drinking scene, but there were some stark reminders of the crisis. Chef Victor Albisu’s closed mod-Mex destination Poca Madre won the award for “Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year.”

There was also some actionable news. DC Director of Nightlife & Culture Shawn Townsend announced the city will be giving out $6,000 grants to help restaurants winterize their outdoor dining spaces. Applications will be available Monday.

Here are this year’s RAMMY winners…

New Restaurant of the Year:

Punjab Grill
Rooster & Owl

Chef of the Year:

WINNER: David Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
Matt Baker, Gravitas
Haidar Karoum, Chloe
Ryan Ratino, Bresca
Kevin Tien, formerly of Emilie’s

Restaurateur of the Year:

WINNER: Yama Jewayni, Katsuya Fukushima, and Daisuke Utagawa, Daikaya Group
Victor Albisu, Poca Madre, Taco Bamba Taqueria
Bo Blair, Georgetown Events (The Bullpen, Due South, Jetties, Millie’s, Surfside)
Mark Fedorchak, Stephen Fedorchak, and Brian Normile, The Liberty Tavern Group
Aaron Silverman, Rose’s Luxury, Pineapple and Pearls, Little Pearl

Service Program of the Year:

WINNER: St. Anselm
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
Ristorante Piccolo
Rose’s Luxury
The Red Hen

Casual Restaurant of the Year:

WINNER: Chiko – Capitol Hill
Bantam King
Duke’s Counter
Little Pearl

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year:

WINNER: Poca Madre
Unconventional Diner

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year:

WINNER: Three Blacksmiths
Pineapple and Pearls
Rasika West End
The Conservatory at Goodstone Inn

Rising Culinary Star of the Year:

WINNER: Angel Barreto, Anju
Marcelle Afram, Maydan
Faiz Ally, Poca Madre
Jocelyn Law-Yone, Thamee
Yuan Tang, Rooster & Owl

Pastry Chef of the Year:

WINNER: Paola Velez, formerly of Kith/Kin
Caitlin Dysart, Centrolina
Olivia Green, Rooster & Owl
Katherine Thompson, Thompson Italian
Meagan Tighe, Trummer’s

Wine Program of the Year:

WINNER: Field & Main
St. Anselm
The Wine Kitchen – Frederick

Beer Program of the Year:

WINNER: Roofers Union
B Side
Caboose Brewing Co. – Vienna
Franklin Hall
Sweetwater Tavern – Centreville

Cocktail Program of the Year:

China Chilcano
Colada Shop – DC
Service Bar

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year:

WINNER: Atlas Brew Works
Arcadia Farm
Ayrshire Farm
Logan Sausage Co.

Employee of the Year:

WINNER: Yasmin Orozco, Taco Bamba Taqueria – Springfield
Yesenia Neri Diaz, Espita Mezcaleria
Isael Granados, Roofers Union
Kyare Turner, Right Proper Brewing Co.
Jose Ventura, Rasika

Manager of the Year:

WINNER: Jamal Flowers, Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Co. – Alexandria
Charlie Idol, Mission Navy Yard
Rizza Leguro, Founding Farmers Tysons
Jeremy Mancuso, Old Ebbitt Grill
Bethany Wagener, Alta Strada – Mosaic

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year:

WINNER: The Salt Line
Brookland’s Finest
Quarry House Tavern
Stomping Ground

Upscale Brunch of the Year:

WINNER: Trummer’s
Bindaas – Cleveland Park
Seasons at the Four Seasons DC
St. Anselm

Casual Brunch of the Year:

WINNER: All-Purpose Shaw
Casolare Ristorante + Bar
Liberty Barbecue
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse

Favorite Fast Bites of the Year:

Call Your Mother Deli – Park View
Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
Sloppy Mama’s BBQ

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.